Everything is hard when you’re paralyzed. When your loss of mobility happens because of an injury at work, you can’t even count on the workers’ comp insurance company to make it easier.
On top of your emotional and physical agony, you can’t even get around your home anymore. Hallways and doorways aren’t wide enough and you can’t turn your wheelchair to get around corners.
Luckily, you may be able to get comp to help pay for a home you can live in. But like everything else in your new life, it will be a challenge—a legal one. Just as you have doctors, therapists, and family to help you through your other challenges, you can get someone to help you with this one: an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Here’s how we try to get these benefits. Before that, remember there are two primary types of guaranteed benefits you get for life: financial compensation (a weekly check) and free medical care related to your work injury. They play a role in the benefits we’re about to review.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits to Help Buy a Home
The money to buy a new home comes from your financial compensation benefits. If you can prove your case the right way, the insurance company can be ordered to pay towards the new home you require to accommodate your special needs.
To qualify, you have to prove facts that require very detailed evidence and a sound explanation from a capable advocate. Here’s what you and your legal adviser will have to prove:
- The award is in the best interest of you and your family. To start with, you probably need evidence that just retrofitting your current home will cost more than a new one. The money can only be used for the home. You’ve got to prove how the home will help your family, too.
- The request is a reasonable amount. You should probably get several estimates from reputable builders—with input from doctors and therapists about your needs—to justify the project. You should consider presenting several options, with the goal of getting that amount as low as possible without sacrificing safety, quality, and durability.
- The amount does not take too much of your future benefits. This requires estimating your life expectancy, which is based on statistics called the mortality tables that list your probable lifespan (strange, but true). The Commission will be extremely concerned about the percentage of your expected lifetime benefits that would be used for your new house. You want that percentage to be as low as possible to ease Commission fears your benefits will run out, leaving you and your family destitute.
- The award will not be a hardship to the insurance company. Don’t worry about that too much—the insurance company has plenty of money. It just won’t pay without a fight.
Comp Benefits to Make a Home Handicapped Accessible
Believe it or not, these benefits come from the medical benefits portion of your workers’ compensation package. The modifications must be required solely by your injury. Typical modifications include:
- Handicapped accessible shower and bath
- Wider halls and doors
- Handicap ramps
- Stairway lifts
- Home modifications for exercise and therapeutic equipment
To qualify for these home modifications, you and your lawyer need to prove you can’t live in your current home without them.
Don’t Go at It Alone
You only get one shot at these benefits, and it’s got to be done the right way. People don’t realize how extremely time-consuming it is to deal with the treatments and limitations of paralysis. You may not have the time or ability to gather all the facts and evidence necessary to secure your rights to a home you can live in. And you can count on the insurance company waging war over paying you many thousands of dollars.
Don’t go it alone. Get an experienced lawyer who can help coordinate witnesses, develop a plan to get builder estimates, and present everything convincingly to give you the best shot at what you need.
If you need help with these benefits, feel free to start a live chat right from where you are, or call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 to schedule an appointment so we can start working on a home where you can live comfortably. If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you.